Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman is Vogue’s May cover star, and inside the issue, the 23-year-old shares what she learned from her inauguration appearance, how she is picky about choosing campaigns since she signed with IMG, and what she thinks of the Obamas, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah.
Since appearing on stage to read her original poem, The Hill We Climb, at President Joe Biden‘s inauguration on January 20, Amanda has been everywhere, from star-studded panels to magazine covers to the Super Bowl.
But, she told Vogue, she doesn’t take every single opportunity that comes her way, no matter how much it pays — and she has turned down millions of dollars worth of deals that weren’t right for her.
Ta-da! Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman is Vogue’s May cover star
Iconic: Inside the issue, the 23-year-old shares what she learned from her inauguration appearance
At the end of January, Amanda signed with elite modeling agency IMG, which has helped bring even more opportunities her way. She already had an impressive line-up of representatives, having previously signed with WME as a public speaker and with Penguin Random House as a publisher.
IMG has represented some of the world’s biggest stars — both fashion-focused and beyond — over the past few decades, helping them to land deals with multiple big-name brands, from Dior to Ralph Lauren to Louis Vuitton.
Its models have also graced the covers of countless fashion magazines, including Vogue, ELLE, and Harper’s Bazaar — but Amanda said that for her, any brand partnerships mean something more.
‘When I’m part of a campaign, the entity isn’t my body. It’s my voice,’ Amanda told Vogue.
Still, fashion brands have been seeking her out after her high-profile inauguration performance, where she stunned in a yellow Prada coat.
In fact, Amanda revealed that so many companies were sending her flowers that she had an allergic reaction that sent her to urgent care.
Famous: Since appearing on stage to read her original poem, The Hill We Climb, and President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, Amanda has been everywhere
Careful: The star said she is picky about choosing campaigns since she signed with IMG
‘When I’m part of a campaign, the entity isn’t my body. It’s my voice,’ Amanda explained
But just because companies are dangling huge sums of cash doesn’t mean that the star is taking them all up on their offers, and she estimates that she has refused $17 million worth of deals.
Of one she turned down, she said: ‘I didn’t really look at the details, because if you see something and it says a million dollars, you’re going to rationalize why that makes sense.
‘I have to be conscious of taking commissions that speak to me,’ she said.
In an interview with Haitian-American writer Doreen St. Félix, Amanda also looked back at the whirlwind that was Inauguration Day.
The first National Youth Poet Laureate said that when she got back to her hotel later that day, she jotted an entry down in her journal.
‘I’ve learned that it’s okay to be afraid,’ she wrote. And what’s more, it’s okay to seek greatness. That does not make me a black hole seeking attention. It makes me a supernova.’
Memories: The first National Youth Poet Laureate said that when she got back to her hotel after the inauguration, she jotted an entry down in her journal
‘I’ve learned that it’s okay to be afraid,’ she wrote. And what’s more, it’s okay to seek greatness. That does not make me a black hole seeking attention. It makes me a supernova,’ she wrote
Star power: Oprah has become a mentor, but Amanda admits: ‘Every time I text Oprah, I have a mini–heart attack’
Politics: She described former President Barack Obama as ‘dadlike,’ former first lady Michelle as a ‘cool auntie,’ and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as ‘such a grandma’
Amanda has earned increasing success over the years, with commissions and fellowships, and her 2015 book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough became a bestseller after the inauguration.
This has allowed the Harvard graduate to rent a nice Los Angeles apartment — which gives her some mixed feelings.
‘I’m trying not to judge myself,’ she said. ‘When you’re someone who’s lived a life where certain resources were scarce, you always feel like abundance is forbidden fruit.’
On a lighter note, Amanda also dished on some of the very high-profile people she has come to have relationships worth.
She described former President Barack Obama as ‘dadlike,’ former first lady Michelle as a ‘cool auntie,’ and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as, affectionately, ‘such a grandma.’
Oprah, too, has become a mentor, but Amanda admits: ‘Every time I text Oprah, I have a mini–heart attack.’
Just recently, on March 26, Apple TV+ debuted a new interview with Oprah and Amanda.
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has been plagued by accusations of racism in the past year, including in the handling of hiring Alexi McCammond as editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue
While Amanda’s work tackles issues including race, oppression, and feminism, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has been plagued by accusations of racism in the past year.
Most recently, critics slammed her for hiring Alexi McCammond as editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue.
Shortly after the magazine announced the appointment, anti-Asian racist tweets from McCammond’s Twitter account, written in 2011, resurfaced.
Publishing company Conde Nast stood by her, leaving staffers irate that she was allowed to keep her job and saying that it sent the wrong message during a time of increased attacks on American Asians.
They also complained that she was inexperienced, having never worked as an editor or manager before, and that there were other black women within Conde Nast who would have been better suited to the job.
They wrote an open letter demanding that she be replaced and also complained directly to CEO Robert Lynch.
Called out: Last year, Vogue was called out for not hiring a black photographer to shoot Simone Biles, pointing out that she didn’t receive good lighting
It also emerged that in an email to staff that Anna Wintour and CEO Roger Lynch knew about the decade-old racist tweets but hired her anyway.
McCammond ultimately resigned.
Back in August of 2020, Beyoncé’s mom Tina Knowles has called out Vogue magazine for not hiring enough black photographers for cover shoots.
‘When will American Vogue step up and hire more Black Photographers for cover shoots? We’re waiting…….’ she wrote.
Meanwhile, the magazine’s cover star that month was Olympian Simone Biles, who was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz — a decision that was been slammed on social media.
Most of the criticism has come from people who take issue with Leibovitz’s lighting technique, accusing the photographer of not knowing how to light dark skin tones.
Many other Twitter users chimed in to call on Vogue to hire more Black photographers — both on principle and to eliminate problems like this one.
In June, Wintour did not take part in a company-wide call about how to promote black staffers too.
At the time, she released a statement saying: ‘I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant.
‘I take full responsibility for those mistakes. It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you.
‘I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either.’